The First World War proved to be a landmark in cinema history, the first time that the horrors of war could be caught on camera. Peter Jackson, best known for directing The Lord of the Rings trilogy, will be compiling and presenting this footage in a way that has never been seen before. By restoring footage from Imperial War Museums’ extensive archive, Jackson will present a new and sharp perspective, as if shot last week rather than more than 100 years ago. The director speaks about his plans for this documentary in a new video unveiled from 14-18 Now, which shows some of this amazing restored footage from a century ago
Setting this original footage alongside BBC interviews with veterans recorded over the decades since the end of the war, Peter Jackson’s WWI Movie will provide a unique new perspective on the 20th century’s most shocking conflict. The film will be screened in cinemas and schools across the UK, and broadcast on BBC One; further details of theatrical distribution will be announced later this year at the 14-18 Now website. Here’s what director Peter Jackson had to say in a statement about this World War I film.
“We are not making the usual film you’d expect on the First World War, we’re making a film which shows this incredible footage in which the faces of these men just jump out at you. It’s the human beings who were actually there, who were thrust into this extraordinary situation that defined their lives in many cases.”
Many hours of dramatic footage were filmed on the battlefields, capturing the realities of the conflict in remarkable and unprecedented detail. This footage provided the public at home with astonishing access to the frontline: The Battle of the Somme, a documentary film produced with the cooperation of the War Office, was seen by an estimated 20 million Britons in its first six weeks of release. Peter Jackson is developing a new film using original footage from Imperial War Museums’ extensive archive, much of it previously unseen, alongside BBC interviews with servicemen who fought in the conflict.
Building on Jackson’s extensive interest in and knowledge of the First World War, this exciting new film will use modern-day techniques such as colourisation to portray the Great War as never before, and promises to provide a 21st-century public with a unique new perspective on the 20th century’s most shocking conflict. Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW and Imperial War Museums in association with the BBC and Executive Produced by House Productions. Special thanks to Matthew & Sian Westerman with additional support from The Taylor Family Foundation, The Moondance Foundation, the British Council, Jacqueline & Richard Worswick, and one anonymous donor. Take a look at this new video where Peter Jackson discusses this documentary, while showcasing some of the restored footage.